Towards the end of the Rainbow Warrior's Indian Ocean tour, the ship was starting to feel a little empty (and almost lonely) after some of the campaign staff and crew had left a little earlier to return home.

Fortunately this changed early the next morning, when the Rainbow Warrior was 'invaded' by more than a hundred Maldivian school children aged between 13 and 17.

I couldn’t tell who was more excited to have them on board: us or the kids.

We were in the Maldives to bear witness to the country's sustainable tuna fishery, which is off limits to foreign industrial fleets. Instead, small-scale and locally-owned boats using a pole and line method operate here.

This is a traditional fishing method with minimal bycatch. It's a way of fishing that has been passed down through the generations. The pole and line method is in stark contrast to the Asian longliners and European purse seiners that operate beyond the Maldives and are decimating global fish stocks.

And as I took the children around the ship, I thought how they might never have the chance to show their own children how to catch a tuna using this traditional fishing method if industrial fishing fleets beyond the Maldives continued their current rate of plunder.

A shiver ran down my back and it made me sad to look into these happy faces, yet too young to worry about their future.

So I told them about how the tour started in Durban, South Africa, where the Rainbow Warrior set sail in early September. I told them about the fantastic marine life and the whales the crew of the fist leg was lucky enough to witness.

But I also told them about the joint surveillance operations and the dark side of foreign vessels that plunder Mozambican waters, legally and illegally, catching tuna and endangered sharks.

I was looking into very big eyes as I explained that catching and finning sharks has become hugely popular due to the demand for shark fins in Asian markets.

One girl asked me whether the numbers were correct and I agreed with her that the killing of 73 million sharks every year, or 8,000 every hour, is an almost unbelievable number. But sadly, the numbers are that high and perhaps even higher.

There was still hope, however, I said to them. And I told them about our successful meetings in one of the Indian Ocean's prime tuna hubs – Port Louis in Mauritius.

I stressed the importance of listening and learning by talking with artisanal fishermen, NGOs, government officials and industry stakeholders in coastal communities. Only when we understand how a country thinks, works and operates can we help its fishing industry walk a path of change to a sustainable future.

I told them about the two illegal Sri Lankan fishing boats Greenpeace International found inside the Chagos marine reserve and the need for improved monitoring and enforcement of fishing regulations.

And the children kept asking questions, giggling and laughing as they took photos of the ship and the helicopter stationed at the back of the Warrior.

As quickly as they came, however, they were gone and the ship was empty again.

In fact, everything has to come to an end at some stage – and so too our Indian Ocean ship tour of 2012.

But this doesn’t mean the work is done. We will keep up the fight for sustainable fisheries, the fight against illegal, unreported and undocumented fishing and the fight against the plunder of our oceans.

Greenpeace will continue to demand the creation of marine reserves and we will keep fighting for the Maldivian children we met and the future generation they represent.

And we will return. Hopefully, you will join us again too.